In the neighborhood I grew up in, we instinctively looked around to check who ‘had our back,’ who was there when the going got tough and who spoke up for us when we needed it. Today, I need to say, THANK YOU FOR HAVING OUR BACK to Mr. Virgil Roberts who published an important opinion piece in the LA Daily News about the importance of being honest in the politics of education and specifically that Anti-Charter school rhetoric isn’t helping LA’s kids.
Mr. Virgil Roberts has long been a champion for children in Los Angeles. He is a very well respected lawyer who has defended the rights of children in LAUSD for years. I first learned about him when he was a civil rights attorney with Manning and Roberts as he represented the NAACP in the Los Angeles school desegregation case Crawford v. Board of Education to ensure that all students had access to quality schools regardless of race. He has been a long-time advocate for justice and for doing the right thing. He’s been honored by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the USC School of Education, and our shared alma mater’s UCLA Black Alumni Association.
His credentials are unparalleled as an advocate and a fierce warrior for educational justice. This is important because too often in the conversation of improving schools in our community and calling for education reform, the defenders of the status quo- and often, the so-called leaders who oppose progress and justice for kids, claim that voices for educational justice are simply billionaires’ agendas.
What they fail to understand is that many progressive, well-respected and fierce advocates for kids support charter schools and the opportunity for parents to chose them… especially when the charters in question are providing excellent educational options for families like mine.
Virgil is on the Board of the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, which is the charter organization that manages the school where my daughter attends high school. My daughter transferred into this school as a Junior, after not having any real access to AP classes at her previous school. I was so angry that my daughter had been tracked to not be really competitive for college.
What her school, ESAT Leichtman Levine, led by a great principal Mr. Andres Versage has done for her is amazing. I am beyond grateful that they have fully invested in her and in me. Last Saturday, the Senior class parents were invited to an students meeting with the Mr. Versage and the counselors. They explained all of the things that we should prepare for, the dates we should calendar and how we could best support our children. As I looked around, I was so moved by the parents who were there and filled the large auditorium. Most were Spanish speaking as was clear from the questions and answers. And I could see the genuine love we as parents, and they as educators, had for our children.
We are on the same team. Her school has set her up to succeed. Her wonderful teachers communicate with me. I have access to all of her progress. My daughter’s counselor, Ms. Daniela Elguea has been an amazing resource and guide for both Miquitzli and I. She communicates with me, strategizes with me and even texts me as we have supported my daughter to prepare for college, even though a terrible concussion set her back significantly.
I am honored to be part of this charter school community. I want all parents to have this same type of experience. We, all students and parents, deserve this type of concern and care.
Mr. Roberts is absolutely right, we need to focus on the kids. We need to stop demonizing charter schools. We need to stop demonizing the educators who chose to work in them. We need to stop demonizing the parents and families who have selected them for their children. Thank you for having our back, Mr. Roberts. On behalf of the hundreds of families at my daughter’s school: Sinceramente, Gracias.
Here is the link:
Alma V. Marquez
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